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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Entering the Esso Cup through the front door
2019-04-09
by Randy Pascal

By the time that Sunday morning of the OWHA Provincials rolled around, only one of the Sudbury Lady Wolves team was left standing.

Thankfully, the Sudbury Midget AA Lady Wolves did not disappoint.

Though their berth at the Esso Cup nationals was already assured, the local midgets “entered through the front door”, as more than a few have suggested, claiming gold at the All-Ontario playdowns thanks to a six game winning streak that culminated with a big 3-2 triumph over the Stoney Creek Sabres yesterday afternoon.

A goal by Madisyn Papineau with just over three minutes to play snapped a 2-2 tie, lifting Sudbury to victory as the program claimed top spot in this division for the third time in the past six years. Hannah Smith and Katie Chomiak also found their way on to the scoresheet, netting one goal each.

“This wasn’t given to us,” noted head coach Jay Duncan. “We earned it, we’re the provincial champs. Now we want to be national champs.”

While the team has enjoyed many strong tournament performances over the course of the year, the end of season provincials was undoubtedly their best, from start to finish. The Lady Wolves powered their way through round robin play with wins over the Markham-Stouffville Stars (3-1), Hamilton Hawks (3-0) and London Devilettes (5-0).

The girls appeared equally as zoned in for quarter-final action, blanking the Kingston Ice Wolves 3-0 and improving their goal differential to +13 (14GF/1GA) heading into their Sunday morning semi-final. And though, by all accounts, the Sudbury squad was equally as dominant facing he Chatham Outlaws, a 3-2 final easily provided the stiffest test to date, with Madison Laberge enjoying a two goal performance and Lauren Hancock adding a solo tally.

“I think at the end of the day, to me, learning to win is a skill,” said Duncan. “It took a few losses along the way, some silver medals, to finally gain that skill. In time, playing in those tough games, you end up learning how to find a way to win.”

The provincial championship came just one week after the Lady Wolves had to settle for silver on Lower Lakes Female Hockey League Championship weekend, dropping a 3-2 overtime decision to the Mississauga Chiefs.

“There are not too many teams that are going to touch us if we play the right way,” said Duncan. “Last weekend, we struggled, as a team, at championship weekend. We weren’t great. This weekend, I wouldn’t say that we were great, but we were very good – but we still have another level.”

“We can be that good, that dominant, if we continue to play the right way, with quick passes, moving our feet, moving the puck efficiently, especially on the bigger ice.” With just two weeks to go until the Lady Wolves take to the ice for game one of their 2019 Esso Cup journey at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, Duncan concedes it is time to shift the focus, just slightly.

“First and foremost, I think we need to rest,” he said. “We need to emotionally take it all in. I’m not sure that it has completely hit the kids yet. I’m not sure they have realized what they have actually accomplished. We need to get everybody healthy and get some rest, because in the past two weeks, we have played ten hockey games.”

Of course, games numbered in the hundreds when it came to the OWHA provincials, with teams on hand from every corner of the province, including a delegation that was ten strong, representing Sudbury.

The Midget A Lady Wolves also managed to advance beyond pool play, posting a 2-1 record initially thanks to victories over both the Kitchener Lady Rangers (2-1) and the Scarborough Sharks (4-1), following a game one 2-0 loss to the Windsor Wildcats, but were felled in the playoffs by the Clarington Flames, also by the score of 2-0.

A number of teams fell just short with a record of 1-2, including the Peewee “AA” Lady Wolves, who were shutout by both the Stoney Creek Sabres (3-0) and Aurora Panthers (2-0), before edging the Peterborough Ice Kats 2-1 on goals Ayla Lagace and Ava Assinewai.

The Atom “BB” crew could have used just a goal or two from their final encounter, a 5-2 win over the Flamborough Falcons, earlier in the tournament, beaten in back to back 1-0 games by both the Whitby Wolves and Grand River Mustangs.

The Atom “AA” Lady Wolves squeezed a 2-1 win over the Oakville Hornets (goals by Chloe Martin and Julia Dunphy) around losses to the Toronto Leaside Wildcats (4-2 – goals by Dunphy and Maia Hammell) and the Barrie Sharks (1-0).

Also hitting the win column once were the Atom “B” Lady Wolves, who opened with a 4-1 triumph over the Toronto Leaside Wildcats, before suffering setbacks to both the Waterloo Ravens (2-1) and North Halton Twisters (1-0), as well as both of the Sudbury bantam teams that were competing.

The Bantam “AA” Lady Wolves blanked the Kingston Ice Wolves 1-0, but needed a goal or two more to try and subdue either the Ottawa Lady 67’s (5-1 loss) or the Oakville Hornets (2-1 loss). The Bantam “BB” crew were in tough against both the Cambridge Roadrunners (6-0) and Lindsay Lynx (7-0), but kept their chin up in bouncing back with a 3-0 victory over the Mississauga Chiefs.

Both the Peewee “A” and “B” Sudbury squads could not quite pick up a win, the former defeated by the Cornwall Typhoons (4-1), Clearview Ice Cats (3-1) and Toronto Leaside Wildcats (3-0), and the latter by the Georgina Golden Hawks (1-0), West Oxford (7-0) and Haldimand Rivercats (5-1).

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